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edition of "andrea mitchell reports," celebrating the life of nelson mandela. >> i stand here before you not as a profit but as humble servant of you, the people. >> a giant among then, activist, prisoner, leader, a president, a founding father. for the legions who revered him simple madiba. >> our nation has lost its greatest son. >> my very first political action, the first thing i ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics was a protest against apartheid. >> by the power of his example demonstrated unequivocally how each of us can choorse, how we will respond injustices, grievances, sorrows and tragedies that afflict all of human kind. >> he was an inspiration to generations of freedom fighters. >> we said if nelson mandela can do it, we can do it. we identify with the struggle. when i met him for the first time, he said to me, john lewis, i know all about you. i follow you. you inspired us. i said new york city, mr. mandela, you inspired us. >> we entered into a covenant, which i billed to society in which all, both black and white, will be able to walk tall w
nelson mandela, heads of state from 89 nations are expected to attend activities and services tomorrow in south africa. this morning president obama, joined by first lady and former president george w. bush, laura bush, former secretary of state hillary clinton all left washington from andrews air force base on "air force one." president clinton and jimmy carter will be meeting them in south africa. president obama will be speaking at tomorrow's memorial service. nbc's ron allen live in soweto. ron, this is a gathering of the great, families, people of south africa all gathering. you have covered this so long. tell me about the emotions as people in south africa prepare? >>. >> reporter: it's an unbelievable atmosphere. we're across the street from the nelson mandela home, the home occupied from 1940s to 1990s. tomorrow is a day that will be unlike any other. there's more than 80 heads of state here. that will surpass the heads of state and world leaders who came to mourn and to say good-bye to pope john paul ii. largest gathering of heads of state outside of u.n. perhaps ever. we'll h
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